Selecting the right running shoes can be frustrating

How many times have you walked into a local shoe store to find the perfect pair of running shoes and have been overwhelmed by the huge wall selection of seemingly unlimited number of available 'sporty' shoes? 

I am one frugal lady that does all she can to save money. However, there are certain things in life that we should never scrimp on; one of those things is a good pair of running shoes. Paying a little extra money for high quality running shoes is much cheaper than paying medical bills due to shin splints, plantar fasciitis, sciatica, and knee issues…trust me. 

Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional runner by any means. Just an average person who enjoys a half marathon, a 10k, or a 5k here and there. My frustrating shoe selection experiences over the last 7 years have prompted me to share a few things I have learned during this process. The best approach is to learn what you need before you step outside your door. Your running style dictates what you will you need.

How Do I Determine My Running Style?

Wear & Tear Method

One  way to determine your running style is to look at the tread of your current running shoes:

  • If the outer edges are more worn,  you likely under-pronate, or supinate. 
  • If the inner edges are worn, you likely over-pronate.
  • If the worn tread is across the heel and under the ball of the foot, then you are likely a neutral runner that does not need stabilizing shoes; neutral shoes will work fine. [1]

Online Assessment Tools

Choosing your perfect running shoe primarily depends on the following:

  • The average number of miles you run per week
  • Arch Height 
  • Whether you over-pronate, under-pronate (also called supination), or have a stable gait
  • How your foot hits the ground when running (front, mid, or heel strikes the ground first)

Search your browser for running shoe calculator sites that calculate the shoe type that best suits your needs.

Old-School Brick & Mortar Style

However, if you’re impatient and/or busy like me, you may prefer to visit your local running store and have them choose the best shoe for you – they’ll watch you run in different shoes and let you know what your gait is; AND, in my experience, if you find that you do not like the them, after running with them on your own for a little while, they have let me exchange them without issue…I am very picky when it comes to my feet.

Don’t be embarrassed to return used shoes if they make you miserable; but, we obviously don’t want to abuse this privilege by returning them after a year of running and ruin it for everyone else. I typically give myself 1 to 3 weeks of running to decide.

Now that I Know my Running Gait, Which Shoe Fits My Running Style?

Many brands place an 'off' colored mark (i.e. grey) to indicate where extra support or gait correction is provided. However, this can become very confusing and frustrating when comparing  different brands and product lines, as some brands do not mark their shoes or may have a different marking system. If I'm not sure if I'm interpreting the shoe stability markings correctly, I verify the information with a knowledgeable salesperson or verify the info online.

Latest & Greatest Online

If you want state-of-the-art (ugh...a cliché) running shoes, pre-select them online before you go to the store, try them on, and buy them. Every brand typically has only their latest product lines proudly displayed online for your viewing pleasure.

Last Season’s Goodies

If you shop at a store that offers discontinued running shoes at a discount (you know who you are), you likely will not be able to compare them beforehand since brands typically only display new models online. I bring my handy-dandy smart phone to the store and review each specific displayed shoe that I’m interested in to see which ones are best for my gait. Simply search the make and model you see in front of you and enter a key word, such as 'pronate' or 'supinate'.

Now, get out there and run! 

Under Pronation (or Supination)

Credit: Holly Perez

Over Pronation

Credit: Holly Perez
ASICS Women's GT-1000 3 Running Shoe,Charcoal/Flash Yellow/Mint,8 M US
Amazon Price: $100.00 $89.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 19, 2015)
My favorite shoe! It's like running clouds and I never get knee injuries or shin splints with this brand....and I've gone through a lot of brands.
Champion Women's Reversible Action Sports Bra (XS, Grey)
Amazon Price: $39.99 $12.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 19, 2015)
My favorite running bra. I wear a 'D' and this brand has been the most supportive. AND it's reversible so I can color coordinate with my other clothes more easily. I buy varying colors of these.